Man of the moment 2: Anton Ferdinand

Having been named as the Barclays Premiership Player of the Month for January, Anton Ferdinand talks exclusively to about his delight at winning the award, his terrific progress this season and hopes for a possible call-up to the full England squad before the summer...

Q: First of all Anton, how does it feel to be named as the Barclays Premiership player of the month for January?
A: It's a fantastic feeling. I must admit, I was a bit shocked when the gaffer told me about the award, but obviously delighted at the same time. I'd like to dedicate to all the other lads because, without them, I wouldn't have won it.
You have to be in a winning team to receive an award like this, and everyone has worked hard to make January a great month for us. The boys have pulled together and shown our character again, because there have been games where we've had to come from behind to win.

Q: Your goal of the season contender against Fulham earned you the headlines in January, but presumably you were just as happy about your defensive performances?
A: That's right, my main job is to defend and stop our opponents scoring, so playing well and keeping a clean sheet is always more important to me than scoring a goal.
I've been happy with my game in recent weeks and we've defended well as a team, so I just hope that can continue. It was nice to keep a clean sheet for the first time in a few months against Sunderland last week, and I hope there are more to come before the end of the season.

Q: We can't talk about January without mentioning THAT goal against Fulham, though!
A: Of course! It was a good strike, and one that I'll never forget. I've managed to get a couple of pictures of the goal, and all you can see is Marlon, Nigel and Bobby with their mouths wide open, and me running away with my arms in the air!
Rio text me after the game, saying something like 'What a strike' and I'm sure he'll say to everyone that he taught me that technique, although I don't remember him scoring a goal like that!

Q: Your award is the latest achievement in what has been a superb campaign so far - what are your thoughts on the progress you've made?
A: It has been a great season so far, but I'm not going to get carried away or let it go to my head. I've got enough people around me who will make sure I keep my feet on the ground, the likes of Marlon, Nigel and Teddy, as well as my family, but it's not in my nature to get over-excited anyway.
My main concern every week is just to make sure the team get three points in the next game. We've been performing well recently and the results have gone our way, but things can change very quickly in football, so we have to stay focused and keep our eye on the ball.

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Q: The atmosphere surrounding the Club at the moment is hugely positive - have you ever known it to be this good?
A: It hasn't been this good since I've been in the first team squad. I know there was a fantastic spirit when Rio was here and the team got into Europe after winning the Intertoto Cup, but I personally have never experienced a team spirit like this.
We've got such a tight-knit bunch of lads, everyone gets on well and the banter in the dressing-room is fantastic. Even the boys who aren't in the team at the moment are playing a big part - they are always there to gee the lads up before the game and at half-time.
The spirit has been a major part of our success so far this season and, if we keep it going, I'm sure we'll get even stronger in the future.

Q: What do the players believe we can achieve this season - is there talk in the dressing-room about Europe?
A: The boys just want to do as well as we can for West Ham United. We have a little talk about where we could possibly finish at the end of the season but, as I said, our main concern is just to take each game as it comes and go from there.
We've just come up to the Premiership and things have gone well. It's on the cards that we'll survive now, and that will mean it has been a good season. The aim now is to make it a great season by finishing as high as we possibly can, and going as far as we can in the FA Cup.
The good thing is that this squad has got strength in depth now and, if we keep playing with the same hunger and desire, anything can happen…

Q: Having been named as the Premiership's best player for last month, would you admit to having one eye on a possible trip to the World Cup finals this summer?
A: Of course, it would be a dream come true, but personally I am not really thinking about it - I'd rather push Nigel Reo-Coker's chances of going to Germany!
I've been saying for weeks now that Nigel should be going to the World Cup, because he is a born leader and would bring those qualities to the England team. We have a great relationship on and off the pitch, we gee each other up in games and he has always been there to lift me if things haven't gone well.
I just want to let my feet do the talking. If the squad is named and I am in it, then it will be absolutely fantastic, but if not, I am still only 20 and there is plenty of time ahead of me.

Q: And you've also been linked in the press this week with a move to Barcelona - what was your reaction to that story?
A: It's just paper talk. Obviously it's flattering to be linked with one of the biggest clubs in the world, but I'm a West Ham United player and I've still got a lot to learn and achieve here - that's why I've just signed a new long-term contract.